A Tale of Two Ralphs

I decided to start with what I saw last, not first, not only because it seems everyone else is reversing orders these days (though who really cares about ‘everyone else’?), and because I didn’t feel like ‘saving the best for last.’

Chado Ralph Rucci is always one of the most long awaited shows of the week for me (and I’m not the only one who shares that opinion). Not only because it symbolizes the close of the New York Collections, but because you know you are in for a rare treat. I always wait in anticipation to see what this master craftsman and couturier has up his ‘sleeves’. And as it turns out, one can say that literally, since the sleeves of jackets held a “special place” in this collection, and were an area of much interest, focus and experimentation. (According to the program notes, in many cases, sleeves, for both day and evening wear, in a variety of fabrics including fur, cashmere and satin duchesse, began at the center back of a fitted torso and then “undulated forward and outward, creating a spiral effect around the arm to form a pronounced curve”.)

But there was something else that was obviously on RR’s mind, other than sleeves- SEX. Not only was this one of Ralph’s most modern, simplified (well, as simple as it can be for such a tireless creator and perfectionist), stripped down, and perfectly executed collections, it was one of his most body conscious, and pretty darn sexy at that. It oozed sex, but relying on the hint and suggestion of nudity, it was not in a vulgar obvious way, but in a refined and elegant way), as exemplified by the black and white zebra shrug shown over a black velvet jumpsuit whose bodice looked sheer but had a strategically placed self ‘pattern’ mimicking the zebra stripe; the black double faced wool crepe on nude silk tulle foundation jacket which had a seductive spider web effect; the black feathered floor length ‘cage’ shown over a caviar beaded jumpsuit, which had the look of an insanely luxurious nightgown. And then there were the pieces given names like, ‘silk tulle fetish jacket’, and the ‘sable and silk tulle fetish coat (to me the ‘fetish’ pattern was somewhat box like and resembled a shadow plaid). When I went backstage to congratulate Ralph after the show (me and hundreds others)….I couldn’t resist making my observations known and asked him if he had sex on his mind. He smiled a wicked smile and answered, “Constantly!”

In addition to the sleeves and the sex, other themes that stood out were the lean black wool jersey jumpsuits (one actually began the show and others were perfect ‘foundations’ beneath something else); the textured rainwear, quilted to resemble reptile skin (how chic are those?); the quilted and slashed black nylon balmacaan, bordered with black patent leather; the tulle insets on jackets and coats in double faced cashmere; the leather embroidery and leather braiding; the chinchillas and sables; and of course, the dramatic and signature silk gazar, chiffon, and organza gowns printed with screens from Ralph’s own paintings and blown up photographs of 7th Century Khmer statuary. One word of caution: they look amazing on the beautiful young models who wore them on the runway, but I would stay away from them if your face in any way resembles that of the statues. Sleek, sexy, over the knee boots (leather, suede, alligator) by Vanessa Noel, architecturally shaped bags by Leonello Borghi, fingerless leather gloves by Samantha Storto, and cool Lucite (or plastic) ‘headbands’ which had the effect of a sporty and sexy ski goggle (all of which were made expressly for Chado Ralph Rucci), were the only accessories shown. By the way, this was the first time a middle aisle was eliminated at the Tent in Bryant Park, opening up the runway but giving the presentation a different look and feel, and making the venue seem a little less intimate and personal.

Ralph Lauren held his two back to back shows at the Skylight Studio yesterday morning. While he began the show with a group in black (a short black cocktail dress, several long black gowns, a long black beaded skirt, double face wool sweater and wrap jacket), these evening pieces were not representative of what was to follow. Nor did they set the mood for a collection whose strong points were its decidedly vintage flavor, predominantly monochromatic, tonal neutral color palette with an emphasis on browns, beiges, and especially winter white (it was here where fabric mixes, including the use of Mongolian lamb, was especially effective), or one that capitalized on Ralph’s strengths when it comes to mixing metaphors: masculine and feminine, old and new, soft and hard, day and evening, tough and delicate. And in a season of tweeds, well. RL almost ‘owns’ them so it’s not surprising that he focused on herringbone and Donegal tweeds, offhandedly putting them together to create something a bit more personal, eclectic, and unexpected (that eccentric glamour ‘thing’ that has been seen on so many other runways hit just the right chord here as well).

As such, the collection could have been called, Ralph’s Greatest Hits, which is not a bad thing, filled as it was with smart tailleur, perfectly tailored jackets, vests, well cut trousers, lean jodhpurs, great coats (standouts were the brown wool and cashmere patchwork coats), hand knit cashmeres, beautiful vintage silk organza blouses, vintage velvet separates, shearlings, languid charmeuse and georgette beaded gowns. Among my favorite looks were the brown wool cashmere patchwork coat shown over a lovat tweed vest, brown cashmere and wool fairisle sweater, and tan cavalry twill pants, and a similar version ‘thrown’ over a languid honey charmeuse beaded gown; the fur collared brown Donegal windowpane tweed vest, brown Donegal cashmere sweater, honey silk voile blouse, and tan cavalry twill pant; the lovat elongated Donegal cardigan worn with a honey silk charmeuse beaded short ‘flapper-esque’ dress; the cream Mongolian shearling jacket, antique cream cashmere hand knit sweater, vintage cram silk organza blouse, and winter white velvet pant

By the way, I thought I would thank all the guys from Citadel Security, headed up by Ty Yorio, for doing their jobs in the most professional way and never losing their cool (read our interview with Ty Yorio). And I’d like to thank McDonalds, who certainly advanced their ‘cause’ and upped their profile, with the little coffee café, McCafe, set up at the Bryant Park Tents. Not only were all the employees gracious and considerate, (smiling and greeting you upon entering, asking what you wanted, making you feel comfortable, etc.), but there was usually a place to sit, and the coffee (espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate) custom made to order, were great — and better yet, they were free!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. Unbelieveable. Absolutely love Valentino, can’t wait to see the new film. Check out the trailer at valentinomovie.com

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